Room to roam in Harley-Davidson’s new Hong Kong showroom

Chai Wan location offers branded apparel and accessories as well as motorcycles, and prospective customers can try a test-ride on the low-traffic roads to Shek O

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 February, 2016, 7:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 February, 2016, 7:00am

Freedom-loving Harley-Davidson enthusiasts have plenty of room to roam in the American motorbike maker’s new Hong Kong showroom, which the company expects to strike a chord with a younger generation.

The 8,000 sq ft space, which opened a week ago, occupies two floors of an ageing industrial building next to a train station on Hong Kong Island, but is anything but a grungy factory set-up.

The clean, uncluttered space in Chai Wan is geared up to give customers an immersion in the open-road Harley lifestyle. Apart from the bikes, it is stocked with off-the-shelf parts, clothing and accessories, and accommodates a hi-tech servicing workshop and even a café (yes, not a bar). Freestanding cabinets display helmets, while walls are lined with racks of T-shirts and leather jackets. Edgy, locally based bike customisation and handmade accessories outfit Angry Lane has its own corner in the showroom.

Harley’s local dealership partner and operator or the showroom is AWN Motors Hong Kong.

With a modest 4 per cent slice of the Hong Kong motorbike market, Harley hopes the showroom will introduce more enthusiasts to the Harley lifestyle experience, says Peter Mackenzie, managing director of Harley-Davidson Asia emerging markets. The aim is to boost its market share to 20 per cent within the next five years.

“We believe that consumers are focusing more on purchasing experiences than simply goods. This change in buying behaviour is very favourable to our business model, where our focus is on selling an experience more than just selling a product,” Mackenzie says.

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Traditionally known for its large, air-cooled cruisers, Harley has increasingly been reaching out to a younger market. This year it is putting emphasis on its stripped-down, minimalist Dark Custom concept, with the Iron 883, Forty-Eight and Harley-Davidson Street bikes. Prices start at a little over HK$100,000.

“With Dark Custom, we embrace the beauty of the basic motorcycle structure. It’s about the beauty of the nuts and bolts, the steel and rubber, and the heart of the machine, which is a Harley-Davidson V-Twin engine,” Mackenzie says. The company is looking to sell between 100 and 200 motorbikes in Hong Kong this year, he adds.

Part of the allure of the Harley-Davidson brand is the freedom of expression it allows, made possible by the high degree of customisation riders can undertake with the bikes, and increasingly a wide range of clothing and accessories, Mackenzie says.

“Apparel is very important to our business. It gives us a chance to further promote the brand value and let customers further express Harley in their own way, even if they don’t ride a motorcycle. We foresee the Motorclothes business will be good in Hong Kong, especially given the recent launch of Harley-Davidson’s Black Label, which is slimmer fitting and more edgy for the younger market. The cut and fit of Black Label is a great fit for the Asian market.”

Mackenzie says the Chai Wan location was chosen because Harley wanted to be on Hong Kong Island and it is convenient for a suitable test-ride route to Shek O. “Additionally, there is low traffic and easy access to the New Territories, where there are incredible riding routes.”

New local partner AWN Motors will be organising more rider activities to bring Harley enthusiasts together, he says.

“Today we have over 75,000 HOG [Harley Owners Group} members in Asia-Pacific, almost 200 active HOG members here in Hong Kong, and they form part of a bigger brotherhood – about one million HOG members across the globe who all love the sport of motorcycling and the Harley-Davidson brand,” Mackenzie says. “We call on [our independent dealerships] to extend the appeal to a broader audience in every city.”

Harley’s first Asia-Pacific dealership was signed in Australia in 1917. AWN Hong Kong is now the company’s 226th dealership in the region.